Sam Johnstone & Matheus Pereira: West Bromwich Albion resigned to losing stars

West Bromwich Albion pair Matheus Pereira (left) and Sam Johnstone
West Bromwich Albion pair Matheus Pereira (left) and Sam Johnstone both impressed in the Premier League last season

New West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael admits that he is resigned to losing star pair Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira following speculation about moves elsewhere.

At his first media briefing since taking charge, Ismael was tackled with questions about Brazilian playmaker Pereira and England keeper Johnstone.

"I have had open discussions with the players," he told BBC WM.

"My expectation is that the two players will leave the club," Ismael added.

"I am just focused on the players who are there. I say to the players 'you are in or you are out'.

"But if you are in, you have to be 100% committed to the club. But it is too early for any decision on the two players."

Former Manchester United and Aston Villa goalkeeper Johnstone, 28, who has been linked with both West Ham United and Arsenal, has made 131 appearances in three seasons with Albion since arriving from Old Trafford for £6.5m in 2018.

He is still away on England duty with Gareth Southgate's Euro 2020 squad preparing for Wednesday's semi-final with Denmark while 25-year-old Pereira, who completed a reported £9m move from Sporting Lisbon last summer, has reported back for pre-season training with the Baggies.

After relegation from the top flight last season, Johnstone and Pereira remain the Baggies' two most marketable assets.

Albion could expect to at least double their original investment in Pereira, who has three years left on a four-year deal, while Johnstone, who has a year remaining on his contract, would also be likely to command an eight-figure fee.

'I don't need the best players, I need the right players'

West Bromwich Albion chief executive Xu Ke and new head coach Valerien Ismael
West Bromwich Albion chief executive Xu Ke and new head coach Valerien Ismael

Ismael maintained he is unperturbed by the notion the Baggies could lose two of last season's better performers.

"It's not a secret," added Ismael. "I don't need the best players, I need the right players. If they leave we will find the right solution.

"After I signed I had video calls with all the players and it was the first time I spoke with Matheus. We spoke openly about the situation. I don't have a problem. At the minute he is 100% focused and I can't say anything else."

As for Johnstone, he added: "As soon as he's finished (at the Euros) we will see. I hope for everyone it will be very long until he comes back. At the minute the focus is on the Euros for him. We are really proud. We'll have a talk when he comes back."

Frenchman Ismael, 45, Albion's sixth boss in four years, has a job on his hands inspiring an Albion side who won just five of 38 Premier League games on their way to relegation under Slaven Bilic and, latterly, Sam Allardyce last season.

Ismael went close to promotion from the Championship last season with his entertaining Barnsley side, whom he took to the play-offs after finishing fifth on a low budget, before losing to Swansea City.

After leaving Oakwell to sign a four-year deal, he has so far made just one signing - his old Barnsley skipper Alex Mowatt.

But he has no plans to give Mowatt the same job at The Hawthorns.

"It is not the first purpose for him to take on leadership," added Ismael. "We have in the squad already people with big personalities like Jake Livermore and Kyle Bartley. These two will play a massive part in our season."

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